The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan attacks that can be construed as campaign-related. In June, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a government watchdog group, found that Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway violated the law by “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.” They called on President Donald Trump to fire Conway.
“Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law,” the OSC said in a statement.
In response to the report, the House Oversight Committee plans a vote Wednesday on whether to subpoena Conway for her alleged breach of federal protocol.
Trump himself has vowed to defy congressional oversight, and the White House has called the OSC report politically motivated.
On CNN Monday, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin explained the significance of the law and why Congress should investigate whether Conway should be let go.
“It’s a very old law that says government officials in the executive branch can’t campaign,” Toobin explained. He added that although praising the president is fine, more explicit partisan attacks on his opponents violate the Hatch Act.
“But the more explicit involvement in partisan politics is forbidden,” Toobin explained.
He added that while it’s not a criminal offense, there should be repercussions for breaking the rule. “The OSC can recommend someone be fired. That’s what’s been done,” Toobin said.
We’ve been living in ‘Game of Thrones’: Ex-CIA official blasts Trump for trying to crush whistleblower
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," former CIA Counterterrorism Center Deputy Director Philip Mudd laid into President Donald Trump over his administration's efforts to quash a whistleblower with sensitive information on a promise Trump allegedly made to a foreign leader.
"You watch Game of Thrones on TV ... In the past 24 hours I feel look we've lived it," said Mudd. "Let me give you a take — I'm not sure of any side except the White House is wrong here. The inspector general says, I have something so egregious that I need to act on it, even if it includes activities of the White House. You have the acting DNI saying, that might be egregious activity but if it's White House personnel they don't work for me. I'm supposed to report on people who work for me and activities that might be inappropriate among my employees. Why am I responsible to reporting to Congress on somebody at the White House who is not my employee? I'm not sure anybody is wrong here. Both may be right. The person in the middle, I think, is the president and I think it's going to come out."
White House limiting staff access to Trump’s phone calls to prevent future whistleblowers: CNN
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta reported that President Donald Trump has grown furious about the state of White House leaks, and his officials are working to keep as many people in the administration as possible shut out from his phone calls with foreign leaders — precisely to avoid situations like the exploding DNI whistleblower scandal.
"As for the whistleblower complaint that's being kept from Congress, a senior administration official tells CNN as these leaks from these calls have angered Trump, top officials in the West Wing began to limit who could listen in on these conversations so as to tighten the circle of people in the know and what the president has been discussing in some of these phone calls with foreign leaders," said Acosta.
Even CNN’s Republican commentator agrees foreign leaders in his call list ‘is not great’ for Trump
President Donald Trump has found himself embroiled in yet another scandal as his Justice Department is muzzling a whistleblower who raised important concerns about a call between the president and a foreign leader. According to the complaint, the conversation between Trump and the leader was so concerning that it prompted a rare complaint to the inspector general by an intelligence officer.
During a CNN panel discussion, even the Republican commentator agreed that it doesn't look good for Trump. The list of leaders that Trump contacted during the time of this complaint were, Vladimir Putin (Russia), Kim Jong Un (North Korea), Imran Khan (Pakistan), Mark Rutte (Netherlands) and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (Qatar).